Raina and Lola went to Camp Tuckaho, a Girl Scout sleep-away camp, for a week. On the hour-long drive there, we sang songs, told stories, and worried that Lola’s car sickness would strike. (She has a puke bucket permanently stationed in every Whompton vehicle. It’s a worthwhile investment.) My additional set of worries were not surprising:
Will Raina and Lola make friends?
Will they have a good first experience?
Will they do what the counselors say without being obnoxious?
Will they actually use sunscreen, brush their teeth, and shower if I’m not there to nag them?
(The answers to those questions are yes, yes, yes, not really, yes, and yes.)
They had a great time swimming, hiking, catching tadpoles, playing games, doing arts and crafts, and being independent. Both eagerly agreed to attend camp again next summer. Excellent!
Originally, the Whompton adults planned to take an easy, leisurely week as we enjoyed our childfree days and nights. Realistically, though, I cannot look at a block of empty time and leave it empty. It goes against my nature as a productive human being. So ….
We purchased new carpet for the finished downstairs and planned to have it installed during Camp Week. We would use the child-free evening time to move all the items out of the finished area to be ready for the installation. That was the plan, anyway. We finished that job ahead of schedule and mostly had everything out of the living room before the girls went to camp. (We had a rousing game of Ball Blaster Battle Ball to celebrate. The last game of BBBB occurred back in 2004 with Andrew McDiarmid. It was really cute to watch Eric and the girls play it together in 2015.)
So we decided to paint the downstairs too. It wouldn’t matter if paint got on the carpet because the carpet was trash anyway, the area was clear of all other obstructions, and the kids wouldn’t bother us because they were camping. While staring at that empty room, I realized if we didn’t do it now, it was never happening. So we dropped the girls off at Camp Tuckaho Sunday afternoon and spent Sunday evening shopping at Home Depot and prepping the downstairs for painting.
Monday night, Eric and I attended a Diversity Awareness Partnership workshop and we ran into a former high school classmate of Eric’s and a new MICDS 8th grade parent for me. Fun! I capped off that evening by painting a bedroom with Samantha. Tuesday evening was a five hour endurance event of painting the downstairs living room and stairwell. Wednesday was second coats for the living room and bedroom and lots of conversation about race and police brutality. On Thursday, Samantha painted her bathroom. We concentrated our painting efforts to earlier in the week because we had an event Thursday night.
We three attended the Saint Louis viewing of 3½ minutes, 10 bullets, a documentary of the shooting of 17 year-old Jordan Davis and the trial of Michael Dunn, the man who killed him for playing music loudly. The story was tragic and heart-breaking and there was not a dry eye in the auditorium. Jordan Davis’s parents were there with us – they are touring around the nation with the documentary – and, while they were clearly strong, they were visibly grief-stricken. I cannot imagine the courage that’s required to grieve publicly, to watch the story of the murder of one’s son over and over again, to push forward for change in these circumstances. His parents are heroes for ensuing that Jordan’s story was told.
On Friday, I removed painter’s tape from the walls – I learned too late only to use Scotch Blue, not any generic kind – and picked up the girls from camp. The car was filled with camp songs and camp stories and two happy kids. Friday night returned the battle of getting Lola in the bathtub, something we had not missed at all, I assure you.
Friday was also the kick-off for the Michael Brown Memorial Weekend. It has been one year since Darren Wilson killed Mike Brown, one year since Mike’s body laid in the street for 4½ hours, one year since the folks in this community said “ENOUGH!” and launched the Ferguson uprising. Friday night, I participated in a rally filled with folks from across the nation and then joined a civil disobedience action planning session.
On Saturday morning, the carpet was delivered and installed and we marveled by how easy they made that task look. We attended a Black Lives Matter vigil in Chesterfield and an adult birthday party. On Sunday, we joined the nation-wide 4½ minutes of silence, attended the Black Lives Matter vigil at Ethical Society, and were inspired by Cornel West, Traci Blackmon, and Rev. Sekou at an Interfaith Rally.
On Monday, I took the girls downtown to Christ Church Cathedral, civil disobedience headquarters for Moral Monday actions. They watched as fifty-plus clergy began chanting “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” and marched down to the local government building. They met leaders and first-timers in the movement. They marveled that so many other people were as passionate about this issue as I am. (We talk about race and policing A LOT in the Whompton household.) The girls and I discussed that I was participating in civil disobedience that day – that I might be arrested and placed in jail overnight, but I would be surrounded by all the people they saw right then, all these people who care like we do, good people trying to do good things. Then I dropped the kids off with Samantha, participated in my action, was not arrested, and headed off to the Ethical Society for a Board meeting.
In all, I anticipated that a week without daughters would be a calm and leisurely affair. This year it was not …. And I am so grateful for it because it gave us opportunities we would have not seized otherwise. The girls want to return to camp again next year; maybe the adults will take a vacation then!